Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Department of Bioengineering combines hands-on experience with the solid fundamentals that students need to advance themselves in research, medicine, and industry. The Department has a long-standing and unique relationship with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and other academic departments at the University of Pittsburgh as well as neighboring Carnegie Mellon University. Our faculty are shared with these organizations, offering our graduate and undergraduate students access to state-of-the-art facilities and a wide array of research opportunities. We currently have 190 graduate students who are advised by some 100 different faculty advisers, pursuing graduate research across 17 Departments and five Schools. Our undergraduate class-size of approximately 50 students per year ensures close student-faculty interactions in the classroom and the laboratory.

The main engineering building is located next to the Medical Center in Oakland, an elegant university neighborhood with museums, parks, and great restaurants. Beautiful new facilities have also been built, a short shuttle ride from the main campus, along the Monongahela River, replacing the steel mills that once were there. Our department is growing rapidly, both in numbers of students and faculty, and in the funding and diversity of our research. The Pittsburgh bioengineering community is a vibrant and stimulating alliance of diverse components for which our department forms an essential and central connection.

Mar
22
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumnus Mark DiSilvestro with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Bioengineering

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards. This year’s recipient for the Department of Bioengineering was Mark DiSilvestro, MSBEG ’99, PhD BIOE ’00, COO of Cases By Source and President of Vista Management Consulting LLC. “Despite Bioengineering being our newest department, its alumni have had truly outstanding successes,” said Dean Holder. “Mark earned both his master’s and PhD in bioengineering from Pitt and since then has established himself in the medical device industry, first at the startup Tissue-Informatics, and later as an R&D specialist. His career has truly been interdisciplinary and is an example how an engineer can play a critical role in translational research, operations and business development.”About Mark DiSilvestroDr. Mark DiSilvestro earned both an MS and a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 and 2000, respectively. He was a member of the Musculoskeletal Research Center where he was a Whitaker Research Fellow. He earned his BS in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in 1996. DiSilvestro has built a career in the medical device industry as a technical contributor in R&D and product development, as a manager of projects and teams and as an executive responsible for all business operations. He began by working at a startup company, TissueInformatics, as a principal scientist. He worked with a team that developed a high speed imaging device for scanning histology slides and creating digital montages of tissue sections that were characterized using novel algorithms. DePuy Orthopaedics, a Johnson & Johnson company, recruited DiSilvestro in 2001. He began with DePuy as a senior engineer in sensors and electronic technologies and was promoted first to staff engineer and then to Manager of Global Concept Development. After leaving Depuy, he went to Becton Dickinson where he developed a global project prioritization process integrated with the company’s change management process which achieved $3 million in annualized cost reductions in its first year. He continued his management role when he left Becton Dickinson to join Medin Corporation in 2008. By 2013, DiSilvestro was promoted to COO and was responsible for all operations of the business.In 2009, DiSilvestro started his own consulting company, Vista Management Consulting LLC. As president, he oversees projects ranging from performing mechanical analysis of structures for design optimization to organizational assessments and recommendations for hiring and process improvements. He was recruited to Cases By Source in 2016, and he is currently the COO. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with Mark DiSilvestro and BioE Department Chair Sanjeev Shroff.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

Society for Biomaterials Awards Bioengineering Graduate Student with Honorable Mention for Outstanding Paper

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 22, 2017) … The Society for Biomaterials has selected Puneeth Shridhar, a bioengineering graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, as the recipient of an Honorable Mention Student Travel Achievement Recognition (STAR) Award. The Society’s Education and Professional Development Committee chose to recognize Shridhar for his work titled “The Rescue Stent for Non-Compressible Traumatic Hemorrhage.”The Rescue Stent is a medical device designed to manage firearm trauma in a battlefield or civilian environment. Currently, patients suffering from large vessel hemorrhaging after a chest trauma must be transported to a hybrid operating room for treatment. The process usually takes about 20 minutes. Early intervention greatly improves the outcome of the treatment, and often a matter of seconds can largely impact the patient’s health. The Rescue Stent can be placed in only four minutes. It stops the life-threatening bleeding and allows blood to continue to circulate to the patient’s organs.Shridhar is currently pursuing a second doctoral degree in the Department of Bioengineering and is advised by Youngjae Chun, assistant professor in the Departments of Industrial Engineering and Bioengineering at Pitt. He previously earned his MD from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Karnataka, India, and he works with Chun in the Medical Device Manufacturing Lab at Pitt. “In the past year, Puneeth and I have authored more than 20 research papers focused on various medical devices with critical applications to many different parts of the body,” said Chun. “He is very passionate about next-gen devices, and the STAR recognition is a very positive sign that Puneeth will be a future leader in the biomaterial arena.”The United States Department of Defense recently awarded a team from Pitt $2.5 million to develop the Rescue Stent technology. Bryan Tillman, assistant professor of vascular surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, serves as principal investigator on the project. Three professors from the Swanson School of Engineering have joined Tillman: William Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; Sung Kwon Cho, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; and Chun.    Shridhar will receive the award at the Society for Biomaterials 2017 Annual Meeting this April in Minneapolis, MN. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
14
2017

Pitt’s Bioengineering and Industrial Engineering programs move up in 2018 U.S. News & World Report Graduate School Rankings

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 14, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has moved up one slot among engineering programs in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools,” which will be available on newsstands April 11. The Swanson School is tied 42nd overall among university engineering programs, and 21st among all Association of American Universities (AAU) members. Two of its programs, bioengineering and industrial engineering, made significant gains over 2017. Bioengineering jumped from 18th in the nation to 12th overall, and remains at 6th among public AAU university programs. Industrial moved from 23rd to 17th overall, and from 13th to 10th among AAU publics. Other department rankings include: Chemical engineering: 33rd overall, 18th among AAU publics Civil engineering: 60th overall, 27th among AAU publics Computer engineering: 43rd overall, 20th among AAU publics Electrical engineering: 55th overall, 26th among AAU publics Materials science: 43rd overall, 22nd among AAU publics Mechanical engineering: 57th overall, 26th among AAU publics Complete rankings and information about the process can be found online in the U.S. News Grad Compass. ###

Mar
7
2017

One Step at a Time: Pitt engineering and medical programs receive NSF award to develop ultrasonic sensors for a hybrid exoskeleton

Bioengineering, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 7, 2017) … The promise of exoskeleton technology that would allow individuals with motor impairment to walk has been a challenge for decades. A major difficulty to overcome is that even though a patient is unable to control leg muscles, a powered exoskeleton could still cause muscle fatigue and potential injury. However, an award from the National Science Foundation’s Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) program will enable researchers at the University of Pittsburgh to develop an ultrasound sensor system at the heart of a hybrid exoskeleton that utilizes both electrical nerve stimulation and external motors. Principal investigator of the three year, $400,000 award is Nitin Sharma, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. Co-PI is Kang Kim, associate professor of medicine and bioengineering. The Pitt team is collaborating with researchers led by Siddhartha Sikdar, associate professor of bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering at George Mason University, who also received a $400,000 award for the CPS proposal, “Synergy: Collaborative Research: Closed-loop Hybrid Exoskeleton utilizing Wearable Ultrasound Imaging Sensors for Measuring Fatigue.”This latest funding furthers Dr. Sharma’s development of hybrid exoskeletons that combine functional electrical stimulation (FES), which uses low-level electrical currents to activate leg muscles, with powered exoskeletons, which use electric motors mounted on an external frame to move the wearer’s joints. “One of the most serious impediments to developing a human exoskeleton is determining how a person who has lost gait function knows whether his or her muscles are fatigued. An exoskeleton has no interface with a human neuromuscular system, and the patient doesn’t necessarily know if the leg muscles are tired, and that can lead to injury,” Dr. Sharma explained. “Electromyography (EMG), the current method to measure muscle fatigue, is not reliable because there is a great deal of electrical “cross-talk” between muscles and so differentiating signals in the forearm or thigh is a challenge.” To overcome the low signal-to-noise ratio of traditional EMG, Dr. Sharma partnered with Dr. Kim, whose research in ultrasound focuses on analyzing muscle fatigue. “An exoskeleton biosensor needs to be noninvasive, but systems like EMG aren’t sensitive enough to distinguish signals in complex muscle groups,” Dr. Kim said. “Ultrasound provides image-based, real-time sensing of complex physical phenomena like neuromuscular activity and fatigue. This allows Nitin’s hybrid exoskeleton to switch between joint actuators and FES, depending upon the patient’s muscle fatigue.” In addition to mating Dr. Sharma’s hybrid exoskeleton to Dr. Kim’s ultrasound sensors, the research group will develop computational algorithms for real-time sensing of muscle function and fatigue. Human subjects using a leg-extension machine will enable detailed measurement of strain rates, transition to fatigue, and full fatigue to create a novel muscle-fatigue prediction model. Future phases will allow the Pitt and George Mason researchers to develop a wearable device for patients with motor impairment. “Right now an exoskeleton combined with ultrasound sensors is just a big machine, and you don’t want to weigh down a patient with a backpack of computer systems and batteries,” Dr. Sharma said. “The translational research with George Mason will enable us to integrate a wearable ultrasound sensor with a hybrid exoskeleton, and develop a fully functional system that will aid in rehabilitation and mobility for individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries or strokes.” ### Photo above: Dr. Kim (left) with Dr. Sharma and a hybrid exoskeleton prototype in the Neuromuscular Control and Robotics Laboratory at the Swanson School of Engineering.

Feb
15
2017

An Impact on Implants

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 15, 2017) … The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Bryan Brown, assistant professor of bioengineering in the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, a five-year, $1.54 million R01 grant for his investigation into the immune system response to implanted medical materials.The study, “Assessing the Impact of Macrophage Polarization Upon the Success of Biomaterial Implants,” will build on Brown’s previous studies demonstrating that macrophage M1 and M2 polarization at early time points after the implantation of a biomedical material can predict long-term reactions by the host’s immune system. The information gathered by the study could significantly improve the success of biomaterial implants and minimize the negative response from the patient’s immune system, according to Brown.“Our current tests have shown that the first week of macrophage activity near the host-implant interface can predict the immune system response downstream as far as 90 days,” says Brown. “We have developed methods for modulating macrophage activity, which we will use to understand why and how these early events after implantation serve as a precursor to the lifespan of the implant. Our research is suggesting, contrary to conventional understanding of host-biomaterial interactions, macrophages can be used to encourage positive, long-term outcomes for the implant and the patient.”Macrophages are white blood cells charged with protecting the body from health threats, including foreign bodies like biomaterial implants. When an implant is placed inside the body, the macrophages recognize its presence and can exhibit either a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory response. Brown and his team have developed methods for observing, measuring and controlling these responses. They will attempt to find optimal designs for biomaterials that not only accommodate the involvement of the immune system but promote positive interaction between the body’s natural defenses and the implanted material. A variety of medical fields rely on the use of biomaterial implants to save and improve the quality of life for patients: orthopedics for joint repair, ophthalmology to restore vision, cardiovascular surgery for heart valve and artery replacement and dentistry for tooth and gum tissue support. Biomaterial implants are also common in the healing of wounds and bone fractures. Brown believes his study will provide researchers with a framework for understanding how the host’s immune system responds to implanted materials and how to use that response to develop more successful procedures for any treatment involving biomaterial implantation. Pamela Moalli, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Pitt and co-director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Female Pelvic Health; and Stephen Badylak, professor in the Department of Surgery and Deputy Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, will join Brown on the study as co-investigators.About Dr. BrownDr. Bryan Brown graduated from Pitt with a BS in mechanical engineering in 2005 and a PhD in bioengineering in 2011. He completed his postdoctoral training in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Clinical Sciences at Cornell University. Brown has a secondary appointment in Pitt’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science and is a member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He is currently a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Scholar at Magee Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh and an adjunct assistant professor of clinical sciences at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.Brown is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Society for Biomaterials, the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) and the American Urogynecologic Society. He received the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Young Investigator Award, the TERMIS Educator Award and the Carnegie Science Award. Brown served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and for the Carnegie Science Awards. He is on the editorial board of Cells, Tissues, and Organs and Current Pathobiology Reports.The Brown Laboratory works to couple mechanistic understanding of the host inflammatory response in injury and disease with the development of context-dependent biomaterials for regenerative medicine strategies. With emphasis on clinical applications in which few effective solutions currently exist, the Brown Laboratory focuses on unmet needs in women’s health. Recent areas of significant interest are temporomandibular joint disease and pelvic organ prolapse. The Laboratory has received funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Aging, National Institute of General Medical Science, Office of Research on Women’s Health and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

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Bioengineering By The Numbers

269

Number of Undergraduate Students enrolled for the 2015-2016 Academic Year

154

Number of PhD Candidates enrolled for the 2014-2015 Academic Year

50

Number of Masters Candidates enrolled for the 2015-2016 Academic Year

 


29

Number of PhD Degrees Awarded in Spring/Summer/Fall 2014 

6

Number of MS Degrees Awarded in 2013-2014 Academic Year 

59

Number of BS Degrees Awarded in 2013-2014 Academic Year 

 


467

 Number of Faculty Publications in 2013-2014 Academic Year 

89

 Number of Graduate Publications in 2013-2014 Academic Year 

50

Number of Undergraduate Publications in 2012-2013 Academic Year